The place of Protestantism in world history is that of a seminal transitional vehicle to a new era of religion/secularism. Its complex starting point between Luther and figures like Munzer show the way that it seeds a prophetic core that most ironically prefigures the coming of postcapitalism of some kind.
The issue of monotheism is in collision with those who claim a monopoly on ‘secularism’, but the Reformation is almost by definition secular.
We expressed skepticism about the ‘god’ factor claimed here. But that reflects the primitive character of theology. The Axial Age shows something so spectacular that even the term ‘god’ (as believers use/misuse it) beggars it. What is its dynamic? We can attempt to approach that at a global model analysis level and displace ‘god’ to a cosmic scale. That was inevitable in the wake of science. Atheists, in their modern version (buddhists long predate them), will try to displace that with a no-god cosmology. It hardly matters, because we are forced to consider religion in the context of the evolution of civilization, and the way this expressed a natural dialectic of possibilities.
The issues of divinity haunt the thought of religionists and non-religionists. But we can see that the history of Xtianity is larger than the theology itself that animates its historical role. We can see now that monotheism emerges in concert with many other changes to civilization in the Axial period, and that therefore the status of all is more or less the same. The onset of Xtianity was not in the Axial Age, but in its succession, and it follows that it corresponds to a different historical dynamic. But the Axial Age clearly injected a confused set of messiah beliefs into the stream. The macro system depicted in World History and the Eonic Effect is not a closed entity with a totalizing dynamic. It is open to outside factors. We thus have no real idea of what spiritual factors were behind the onset of Xtianity. Many things in the macro system are not causal outcomes of prior conditions. The global context is too large for that. But in any case there was a clear path to the future via the core materials of Israelitism, among them the very handy visions of a coming messiah. The result is thus both a continuation of the Old Testament and something very new. The result was one of the first ‘proto-revolutions’ in world history, with results that open to us to evaluate at the dawn of a new modern era.
The story of Jesus clearly hints with its ‘son of god’ story to the way in which an earthly ‘avatar’ could initiate an historical religion and yet be in the context of some still mysterious cosmic power. The tale has suffered mythological confusions but the overall strategy is so obvious while still remaining obscure that we can easily guess at the core significance. And its attempted revolutionary logic in the name of religion deserves renewed study at at time in history when the ‘new Protestant’ church ought logically to be from the left and address the issues so anciently named of poverty and the poor.
The left can assume that the logic of Jesus has passed to a larger dimension and proceed with an epic saga of the Axial Age while tuning post-monotheism to something better than scientism while mindful that monotheism must spawn its successor, faithful yet abruptly discontinuous in its stance toward the past.
The point here is that the Protestant continuation shows clearly the way radical activism inherited the genre, and we can see via Hegel that marxism/communism were really attempts to complete the Reformation. And they were right,save that the age of positivism, in a contraction from the Enlightenment, seized the day and we see a too crystallized historical materialism take the stage. That is an easy confusion to resolve and the way to a larger movement that embraces secular religion in the spectrum of the Axial Age and with a discovered take on the mystery of Xtian revolution that can echo the rising social movements of the nineteenth century left and take them to a new combination of radical/religious politics, in the virtual future of a social communist endstate of the economic world system.
The question of monotheism emerges in the Axial Age, and will suffer dialectical deaths many times without disappearing. We can see that the issue of god isn’t the real issue anymore, as the pantheon of the one god suffers the fate of the pagan pantheon. The real truth of monotheism remains to be discovered. We must continue the study of the global Gaian mystery that has often seeded religions even as our perspective moves to a cosmic dimension.
In any case, we see that emergent modern communism turned into a variant of a religious movement, and its early failures do not rule out a new rebirth as a secular vehicle from the early modern.